Woody Allen said, “80% of success is just showing up.”
Well, 80% of customer service is just being nice.
Recently I’ve been writing more about the simplicity of customer service. The concept of customer service is simple. Just be nice. Okay, maybe I am over-simplifying this a bit. A great customer service experience consists of two other elements: operations and quality of what you sell. That’s the other 20%. And, without that 20%, it doesn’t matter how nice you are.
First, let’s cover operations, as it applies to the customer experience. Anything that isn’t considered part of the frontline customer service experience, but impacts the customer experience, can be put into the category of operations. This can be accounting, warehousing, the manufacturing process, hiring or anything that it takes to run the business and produce the product.
Then there is the quality standard. Whatever you sell has to meet the customer’s expectations. If you sell expensive leather shoes, the customer will expect them to last a long time. Conversely, if you sell inexpensive shoes (read that as cheap), the customer shouldn’t be surprised if they fall apart after a year. Either way, you have a quality expectation that needs to be met, if not exceeded.
Finally, you add delivery to the mix. This is the part about being nice. Even if you are flawless in your operation and meet the customer’s quality expectations, you can’t leave out what may be the most important part: the frontline customer service experience, which is controlled by people – hopefully nice people. This is 80% of customer service. It’s the “show” you perform for your customer. This is what the customer sees and experiences as they take delivery of your product or service.
That is why people will pay more for a cup of coffee at Starbucks. They provide an amazing experience, and it starts with the nice people behind the counter who take the customer’s order and make the coffee.
Even a website is controlled by people. The customer’s experience will be a direct result of the thought and effort someone (or a group of people) put into making the experience simple and easy to navigate and understand. One of the reasons that Zappos.com is so successful is because of their website. Even though their customers are shopping online, they know that if they need help, they can just dial a phone number (that is easily found on every page of the website) and get their question answered or the problem resolved. That’s part of their customer service.
There are lots of companies that manufacture or sell the same types of products or services. It’s the ones that can differentiate themselves with their customer service that are more successful. And a big part of that customer service, maybe even as high as 80%, is simply about being nice.
Simply put, if the product or service does what it is supposed to do (operations and quality), and you are nice about the way it is delivered, you have a winning combination. It really is that simple.
Shep Hyken is a customer service expert, professional speaker and New York Times bestselling business author. For information contact (314) 692-2200 or http://www.hyken.com. For information on The Customer Focus™ customer service training programs go to http://www.thecustomerfocus.com. Follow on Twitter: @Hyken
(Copyright ©MMXII, Shep Hyken)